Don Toms

Member for
6 years · 6 months · 8 days
Find A Grave ID
47529406

Bio

As a lifelong resident of Lead and an avid genealogist, I have been interested in cemeteries, especially the local Black Hills area cemeteries, for a long time. My current major interest is the historic South Lead Cemetery here in Lead, Lawrence County, South Dakota and the approximate 4000 individuals interred there. This work was especially important since records at Lead City Hall only date from about 1914, while the cemetery itself dates back to about 1878. The missing interments, marked and unmarked, were pieced together from headstone inscriptions, mortuary records and newspaper obituaries.
Along with Darlene Burns of Lead, I was an organizer of the Friends of South Lead Cemetery group several years ago, which volunteered many hundreds of hours in the cemetery and which raised over $120,000 in grant money for restoration work there.
I have also always been interested in history in general, and for 19 years I was the director of the Black Hills Mining Museum here in Lead. I also have served on numerous boards on the local and state level including the Lawrence County Historical Society, Historic South Dakota Foundation, Association of South Dakota Museums, Lead Cemetery Board, Lead-Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, the Lead City Fine Arts Association, and the Hearst Library Board. I have also actively been doing genealogical research for over 35 years.
To me Find A Grave is one of the most extraordinary genealogy sites on the web. However, it is not without problems. Anyone wishing to contribute information might consider that the project is not a race to see who can get the most notches in their belt for adding memorials, especially if the quality of the memorials suffers because of it.
It is also frustrating to see the poor quality of some of the photos being taken - poor lighting, odd or bizarre angles, weird portions of headstones with missing parts, etc. I have also seen cases where the individual stood ten or fifteen feet from the headstone and took a photo! Is there a weed or some grass sticking up in front of the headstone? Reach down and remove it and then take the photo. Quality really does matter. Also, the inscription on the monument is certainly of great importance, but please don't just take a photo of the inscription. Family members would like to see what the entire monument looks like as well.
Is the photo that you took a little crooked or dark? Most computers these days come with simple and quick photo editing software which allows you to straighten and lighten or darken or crop photos etc. before posting them. All that is required is a little time and effort. It's fast and easy.
Making up cemeteries and pretending that various people are still buried in them, such as is the case with "The Historical Cemetery at Deadwood" is utterly ridiculous. Fortunately, that is more of a rare occurrence for the Find A Grave site.
In conclusion, racing through cemeteries wildly taking photos does not benefit the site in my opinion. If someone is going to create a memorial, he should take as much time and effort as possible to provide correct and adequate information and quality photos that a family member of the deceased would be pleased to see!
I hope that all contributors are also willing to transfer management of memorials they have created if asked by family members of the deceased if they are not a relative of the deceased themselves.

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